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Batman 2.46 – A Riddling Controversy

Well… this was not as good as I remembered it. It’s still pretty good, though. There are worse Riddler episodes than this.

The story draws elements from the very first Riddler adventure by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, which was originally published in Detective Comics # 140 in 1948, and it returns the character to his comic book roots, where his riddles are really word games, like the “banquet” / “bank wet” sequence from part one. The story is much truer to the character as he was originally scripted than anything with Incan treasure maps or silent movies, anyway.

While this adventure has a totally different plot, some of the set pieces are drawn from the original comic. Most obviously, there’s the bit where a millionaire named Eagle is caught in a trap of interlocking steel bars, which Batman and Robin have to disassemble. At the last minute, however, the producers decided that the millionaire should be a doppelganger for Fidel Castro named “Aquila,” necessitating some rather poor dubbing of new dialogue over what had been recorded in Commissioner Gordon’s office!

John Astin never really did seem comfortable as the Riddler, and the gorgeous Deanna Lund, who would would have a co-starring role a couple of seasons later on ABC’s Land of the Giants, is completely wasted in her part here. It’s all a shame and a missed opportunity, because the script, with its dense, cerebral word games and puzzles, wasn’t a bad one. It’s unfortunate that Frank Gorshin refused to come down on his price. His dangerous, unhinged edge would have elevated the story.

Daniel didn’t seem to enjoy part one much at all, but liked this a little bit more. The extra fight this time around probably helped. I was impressed that he was able to spot that the Riddler was played by a different actor. I can’t swear that I noticed that when I was a kid.


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Batman 2.11 – The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes

What an incredibly strange coincidence. Tonight, we watched the first part of the only Batman TV story to credit Bill Finger with the story. He co-wrote this one with Charles Sinclair. Just last week, DC Comics and Warner Brothers finally agreed to give Finger, who died in 1974, a co-creator credit for the character. Bob Kane has been given sole credit for devising Batman for decades; into the 1960s, in fact, it was common for the comics books to have Kane, and nobody else, credited for the work. From time to time, Kane would acknowledge that Bill Finger had a lot more to do with Batman’s mythology, supporting cast, villains, and success than the official record would allow. Or perhaps that should read “…than Kane would allow the official record to allow.”

On Friday, Warner announced that, starting with this season of Gotham, Finger will be formally credited as Batman’s co-creator. You’ll also see this in theaters next summer when the next movie is released. This represents a long-held dream of comic fans and historians, and Finger’s family. We’re very glad to see this happen.

Finger also created the character of Clock King in 1947. Portrayed here by Walter Slezak, he was introduced as “the Clock” and renamed Clock King in 1960. He’s had a quite a few different looks over the years, and the one shown here, in which he’s posing as a pop artist in order to bring a big machine into an art gallery to cut through a wall in broad daylight, is actually not the silliest. He had some blue and green spandex for a while with a full-face clock mask! Most recently, he has shown up in one episode each of Arrow and The Flash, which, I think, makes him the first supervillain to appear in both the Adam West universe and the Stephen Amell one.

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